Summary: Smells Like Teen Spirit
November 21, 2017
Historically Significant American Music
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by the grunge rock band Nirvana, is one of the best-selling singles of all time, having sold over 8 million copies since its release on the album Nevermind in 1991. The anthem took alternative rock to the mainstream, with the help of MTV playing it constantly. Nirvana was the World’s first triple platinum punk-rock band and has sold over 75 million records globally. (Gupta, Rapiti) Furthermore, their music maintains popularity and continues to influence the modern rock culture. In April of 2014, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Front-man Kurt Cobain met Krist …show more content…
Cobain relied on contrasting and contradictory images to convey his emotions and ideas. Many of his lyrics were difficult for listeners to make sense of. Even for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” people had a hard time deciphering what he meant, due to the nonsensicality of them and his slurred singing voice. When asked to comment on how he writes songs, Cobain responded, “When I write a song the lyrics are the least important subject.” Drummer Dave Grohl has said that he doesn’t think Nirvana’s songs have any real message, “Just seeing Kurt write the lyrics to a song five minutes before he first sings them, you just kind of find it a little bit hard to believe that the song has a lot to say about something. You need syllables to fill up this space or you need something that rhymes.” Producer of Nevermind, Butch Vig, remarked, “I don’t exactly know what ‘Teen Spirit’ means, but you know it means something and it’s intense as hell.” (Azerrad, Michael) Cobain agrees that the message of the song isn't necessarily in the words, but rather the emotion it produces, "Most of the music is really personal as far as the emotion and the experiences that I've had in my …show more content…
It includes an eight-bar verse, and eight-bar pre-chorus, and a twelve-bar main chorus. So overall the song has a somewhat conventional verse-chorus structure with the addition of a pre-chorus. The chorus’ 12-measure section breaks down into three four-measure phrases. During the verses, the band maintains the same chord progression as the chorus. Kurt Cobain’s main guitar riff is four power chords played in a syncopated sixteenth note strum, which follows a F–B♭–A♭–D♭chord progression. (Johndorhauer) The recorded version of the song uses the audio recording technique of “double tracking” the guitar chords to make the song feel more heavy and